Critically discuss the view that eating disorders are caused by genetic and biological factors. With reference to the biological and genetic explanations whilst also trying to offer alternative explanations.
Eating disorders are only one category of mental disorder but which affect the most amounts of people. Individuals with eating disorders have some problem with food for example they may over eat (obesity) or they may under eat (anorexia) or they may vomit repeatedly after binging on vast quantities of food (bulimia). There is evidence that such disorders may have a genetic basis but could also equally be triggered by biological factors.
Anorexia Nervosa, to give it its full name, is literally a nervous lack of appetite. Brief explanations of some of the characteristics are as follows.
- There is a deliberate and prolonged restriction of calorific intake and considerable weight loss with the weight usually falling to less than 85% of the person’s normal weight.
- They have an intense fear of gaining weight, but are often obsessed with food
- They have a disturbed body image- they usually continue to see themselves as overweight
- It is usually accompanied with amenorrhoea
- It is largely a problem with middle class and adolescent girls.
- Two types of anorexia have been identified; the restricting type (constant fasting) and the binge eating type (those who periodically binge and then purge)